Given empty store fronts and delayed restaurant openings in NYC, we were really surprise to not only find a new restaurant had taken over the Water Moon spot, but that it has already opened for business last night.
(update: We learned that new restaurant Canteen 82 is owned by the same owners as Water Moon.)
Canteen 82 currently offers dumplings at $1 or less a piece, bringing Chinatown prices in a clean, UWS environment.
Canteen 82's set-up is confusing as it has two areas: a coffee bar and dining space. Its coffee bar with baked goods sits where Water Moon's bar used to be.
We came in curious about the $2 latte and $1 pastries (currently stated as opening weekend prices). We were expecting Chinese bakery offerings (e.g. egg tarts), but were disappointed to only see plain-looking croissants.
Instead we opted for dumplings. Have you ever had hand-made Shanghai or Soup Dumplings? These steamed dumplings contain a filling (pork, crab, vegetable, etc.) with a hot savory broth inside. To make them, you need to add gelatin to soup and chill it to solidify the soup. After you steam the dumplings, the soup melts inside creating the liquid broth.
Eating these boiling hot dumplings can be a little tricky. You need to use your porcelain Chinese spoon and chopsticks together. Lifting the dumping, with the spoon underneath, you can dip it into the sauce and then cradle it with the spoon. Poke a small hole in the top of the dumpling to cool the soup down a bit, and then pop the whole dumpling in your mouth.
Canteen 82 offers Shanghai Dumplings (6 for $6 or dozen for $11) in 3 flavors: Pork Soup dumplings, Crab Meat w. Pork Soup dumplings, and Vegan Shanghai dumplings. We enjoyed the Pork Soup dumplings - delicate wrapper, meaty little pork filling, and hot savory broth. At less then $1 each (when you buy 12), these may become our go-to neighborhood snack. (update: Do not get the Vegan Shanghai Dumplings. Though they taste fine, they did not have any soup in them making them no different than regular Jiaozi dumpilngs. When we inquired, our server responded that this is the way the vegan soup dumplings are and that the pork ones were soupy because the meat is fatty.)
We also ordered Jiaozi, familiar dumplings that are either steamed or pan fried. Canteen 82 offers chicken, pork, shandong (mix of shrimp and pork), and vegan varieties. We chose the pan fried shandong dumplings (6 for $5.50).
Canteen 82's dumplings were nice and crispy with a plump shrimp and pork filling inside.
Canteen 82's menu also includes buns, ramen noodle broth, and organic salads. It states that they only use natural and organic products - though we could not tell since we only ate dumplings. Canteen 82 is not a spot you would travel across the city to frequent, but worth a look if you are in the neighborhood and need a cheap dumpling fix.
Canteen 82 is located at 467 Columbus Avenue (btwn 82nd and 83rd Sts.) in NYC.